Sep 4, 2013
Weekly News Conference Free Preview
EVANSTON, Ill. -- After passing a challenging season-opening road test at Cal, No. 19/20 Northwestern (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) returns to the comforts of Ryan Field for a four-game homestand that begins Saturday (5 p.m. CT, BTN) with Atlantic Coast Conference newcomer Syracuse. The two teams are meeting for the fourth time in the last six seasons, with the Wildcats looking to 'win' the series after having claimed two of the first three.
To catch the 'Cats in action, tune your TV dial to Big Ten Network or enjoy the radio broadcast on WMVP-ESPN1000 in Chicago. Follow live tweets on @NU_SportsLIVE and share your photos from the game by using the hashtag #B1GCats to join the conversation.
More Great Reasons to Check Out the Home-Opener
In addition to cheering on the 19th-ranked Wildcats, Saturday's game offers plenty of reasons to make it to Ryan Field Saturday evening:
Saturday is Chicago Blackhawks Day at Ryan Field, as Northwestern Athletics and the Wildcats honor the 2013 Stanley Cup champions! Fans in attendance can expect Blackhawks-themed excitement throughout the day, including the singing of the national anthem by the Hawks' own Jim Cornielson, appearances by leading members of the Blackhawks organization as well as mascot Tommy Hawk. Take advantage of this special event to save on ticket prices! Fans may email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a special promo code, or simply arrive at Gate F wearing Blackhawks gear on the day of the game to secure discount admission!
To recognize the tremendous efforts of Chicagoland's finest and bravest, all local police officers and firefighters, as well as their friends and family, are invited to experience Northwestern Football with discounted tickets. There is even the opportunity to participate in an on-field flag presentation before kickoff. CLICK HERE for complete details and ordering instructions.
Wildcat Alley Fan Fest Presented by Cricket Wireless:
Wildcat Alley is the FREE pregame fan fest area located only 100 yards northeast of Ryan Field. Wildcat Alley opens three hours before kickoff at each home game. Wildcat Alley is fun for guests of all ages and features interactive games, face painting, giveaways, Willie the Wildcat, cheerleaders, a performance by the Northwestern marching band and much more. For more information on Wildcat Alley or the new Wildcat Alley Tailgate Garden, CLICK HERE.
Fans are reminded that parking in the lots on the east and west sides of Ryan Field is restricted only to season ticket holders who are in possession of a season-long parking pass. If you do not have a parking pass, please head directly to the FREE lots on campus to park. Please be advised that due to ongoing construction on Northwestern's lakefront campus -- specifically at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatic Center -- parking will be limited this fall. All free lots on campus are available on a first-come, first-earned basis, and tailgating IS permitted in these lots. Free shuttles run between campus and Ryan Field before, during and after games.
Additionally, Ryan Field is conveniently located less than three blocks away from both the CTA Purple Line (Central Street station) and the Metra (Central Street/Evanston Station). Visit transitchicago.com or metrarail.com for gameday transit schedules.
Northwestern Game Notes
Northwestern's 2013 season began in typically exciting fashion last week. Playing late into the night in the Pacific Time Zone, the Wildcats found themselves in a shootout with an up-tempo, run-and-gun style offense run by the Golden Bears and their first-year head coach, Sonny Dykes. But despite the two teams combining for more than 1,000 yards of total offense, it was two defensive plays by NU junior linebacker Collin Ellis that turned the tide in Northwestern's favor. Ellis recorded two interception returns for touchdowns in the second half -- covering 56 yards on the first return and 40 on the second -- to lift Northwestern to a 44-30 victory in Berkeley.
Ellis' timely scoring plays -- the first two interceptions of his Northwestern career -- were enough to earn him Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for the opening week of the season. His two "pick-sixes" in one game marked a first in Northwestern Football history and had not been matched by any Big Ten player since at least 1996. The last player in college football to achieve the feat was Fresno State's Philip Thomas on Sept. 15, 2012.
Northwestern's offense racked up 508 yards in Berkeley despite playing most of the game without returning starting tailback Venric Mark as well as starting QB Kain Colter, who was injured on the third play of the game and did not return. Quarterback Trevor Siemian once again answered the call when placed under center, completing 10 of his first 11 pass attempts and finishing with 276 yards on 18-of-29 passing. In the backfield, junior Treyvon Green exploded for a career-best 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including a key 55-yard dash in the fourth quarter that set up his game-clinching score.
Northwestern believed coming into the season that it boasted great depth at the defensive end position, and the first game was a good indication of why. NU recorded 4.0 sacks of Cal quarterback Jared Goff, with each of Northwestern's top four D-ends -- Tyler Scott, Dean Lowry, Deonte Gibson and Ifeadi Odenigbo -- responsible for one apiece. For Scott, the senior and lone upperclassman in the group, the sack was the 11th of his career, moving him into a tie for seventh on Northwestern's career list.
The win only continued Northwestern's recent run of success in nonconference play under eighth-year head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who enters play this weekend with a 24-5 career mark against non-Big Ten opponents in the regular season. That record includes eight wins in nine games against BCS conference opponents (outside the Big Ten) since the start of the 2008 campaign, and also features an active 13-game home winning streak vs. nonconference foes that Northwestern puts on the line today. Fitzgerald also is 8-0 in season-openers in his Wildcats head coaching career.
Each of Northwestern's last two meetings with the Orange, both in the Carrier Dome, turned into offensive shootouts that were decided on the final drive of the game. In 2009, then-'Cats QB Mike Kafka scored a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing and threw for 242 first-half yards only to watch as SU kicked a field goal as time expired to steal a 37-34 win. Northwestern exacted its revenge in 2012, surrendering a 22-point second-half lead but eventually winning on a last-minute TD toss from Trevor Siemian to wide receiver Demetrius Fields. The all-time series between Northwestern and Syracuse is tied at five apiece.
Syracuse is no newcomer to playing Big Ten opponents and is doing so for the second consecutive week to open the 2013 campaign after falling to Penn State, 23-17, in last week's matchup at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. First-year head coach Scott Shafer is aiming to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Doug Marrone, who in his first year at the helm in Syracuse (2009) fell to Minnesota and Penn State in his initial two games of the season before notching his first career win in the aforementioned matchup with Northwestern.
Any matchup between Northwestern and Syracuse on the gridiron is likely to stir the emotions of many of sports journalism and communications. Both universities' journalism programs have produced many of the top professionals in the field, including Brent Musburger, Michael Wilbon and J.A. Adande at Northwestern, and Bob Costas, Mike Tirico and Marv Albert at Syracuse to name a few. One particularly prominent alum, 1989 Northwestern graduate and host of ESPN Radio's Mike And Mike In The Morning Mike Greenberg, will be on the sidelines Saturday serving as the Wildcats' honorary captain. Fans are encouraged to look for a special piece featuring Greenberg and the Wildcats on Saturday's episode of ESPN College GameDay to learn what Greeny's experience as an honorary captain was all about.
NU and SU share one other unique off-field connection. In 2007, NU's Ryan Field was used as a primary filming location of the Hollywood production of "The Express," which tells the story of 1959 Syracuse Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis. Ryan Field served as a stand-in for SU's old Archbold Stadium, the Carrier Dome's predecessor.
Download complete Northwestern and Syracuse game notes, linked in PDF format at the top of the page.
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